Apple wins a Project Titan Patent relating to a Light Field Head-Up Display that projects information to the driver on a windshield
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Last December Patently Apple posted a granted patent report titled "Apple Wins a Patent for an advanced Head-up-Display that could project Holographic Imagery across the Windshield & Side Windows." Today, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office officially granted Apple another head-up display patent that this time focuses on using a light-field head up display.
Vehicles such as automobiles are sometimes provided with head-up displays. Head-up displays project images onto the windshield of a vehicle. A driver of the vehicle can view the projected images while driving. Head-up displays are typically used to display vehicle status information such as speedometer information. Head-up displays allow information to be safely displayed for a driver without requiring the driver to look away from the road ahead.
To maximize the usefulness of head-up displays in vehicular environments, it would be desirable to be able to enhance the ability of a head-up display to display information for the occupants of a vehicle.
Apple's granted patent covers a head-up display may produce output that reflects off of one of the windows towards a viewer such as a driver or other occupant in the vehicle.
The head-up display may be a light-field head up display that produces a light-field output allowing the viewer to observe three-dimensional content on the head-up display.
An array of light-field display units and corresponding lenses may be used to direct the light-field output towards the viewer. The lenses may direct overlapping light-field output from the display units towards the viewer, thereby creating an enlarged seamless light-field viewing area on the window of the vehicle.
The head-up display may have a transmissive display such as a liquid crystal display or other display with an array of backlit pixels. The pixels may include subpixels of different colors. Each pixel may have an elongated shape and may extend along a given dimension. Lenticular lenses in the transmissive display that overlap the pixels may extend along the given dimension in parallel with the elongated pixels.
A directional backlight may be used to adjust the direction of the light-field output produced by the light-field display. The directional backlight may be adjusted to alternately provide light-field output to the left and right eyes of the viewer or to alternately provide the light-field output to two different viewers.
Apple's patent FIG. 1 below is a side view of an illustrative vehicle with a head-up display; FIG. 2 is a schematic diagram of an illustrative vehicle or other system with a head-up display; and FIG. 3 is a side view of an illustrative head-up display in a vehicle.
More specifically, FIG. 3, the head-up display may include one or more display units such as display unit #40 and one or more lenses forming an optical system such as optical system #58. Display unit #40 may be a light-field display unit based on a liquid crystal display, organic light-emitting diode display, cathode ray tube, plasma display, projector display (e.g., a projector based on an array of micromirrors), or other suitable type of display.
The light-field display unit may generate a light-field associated with three-dimensional content to be displayed to viewer #68. The optical system (#58) may be used to present the light-field output from light-field display unit to viewer. For example, the optical system may direct light-field output from the display unit to an inner surface (#64) of the front windshield window (#14F or other suitable windows in vehicle #10). Reflected light (#66) may be viewed by a viewer who is looking through the windshield in direction #70. The viewer may simultaneously view content from display unit and objects external to the vehicle such as external object #80.
A digital image sensor or other sensor(s) such as camera #72 may be used to track the position of the viewer's head (head #74) and/or the viewer's eyes (eyes #76). Viewer tracking information may be used to restrict the amount of light-field output that is generated (e.g., so that only information that is viewable by the viewer is generated by display unit #40). Restricting the amount of light-field output that is generated may reduce the processing burden placed on control circuitry when creating three-dimensional display output with the head-up display.
In the illustrative configuration of FIG. 3, the light-field display unit is a projector-based system that includes a light source such as light source #44 that produces light #48 which is reflected from beamsplitter #46 as reflected light #50. The reflected light is directed towards the face of micromirror array #42. The light reflects from the micromirror array as light-field output #52.
Apple's patent FIG. 8 below is a top view of an illustrative viewer and an associated head-up display viewing region (viewing box) having subregions aligned with the left and right eyes of the viewer.
For more details, review Apple's granted patent 11,163,157